Home About AllHealth Website Sitemap Contact Us
All Health 
You are here: Home > Children's Health > Toddlers (2 to 4) > airline travel with children


airline travel with children

Alternative Names 
travelling on a plane with children

Aeroplane travel can be exciting for a child. It can also present challenges. Depending on the age, a child may find it difficult to sit for long periods of time in the confined space of an aeroplane. A benefit of airline travel with children is that the trip takes less time than by ground. By making preparations ahead of time to address the child's needs, parents can make a trip more enjoyable for both children and adults.

What is the information for this topic? 
When travelling by plane, the child's safety, comfort, and enjoyment should all be taken into account. The following are issues to consider.

Seating arrangements

Prior to two years of age infants and toddlers can ride in the lap of an adult passenger.

Normal routines

Planning travel around the child's regular schedule may make the trip more pleasant. For example, a child may sleep for some or all of a flight scheduled at night or during naptime.

Food preferences

When confirming reservations, or 24 to 48 hours before flight, it is usually possible to request a children's meal. It is also a good idea to carry small snacks such as fruit, dry cereal, fruit snacks or bars and other enjoyable treats.

Ear problems and motion sickness

The sharp increase or decrease in altitude during take-off and landing can cause increased pressure in a child's ear. Some doctors may recommend giving a child a dose of a decongestant before the flight. If a child has a history of ear infections, the doctor may have other suggestions to decrease ear problems. Also, it may be helpful to have a child suck on a dummy, bottle, lollipop or chew gum during take-off and landing. This encourages swallowing and helps to decrease the build up of pressure in the ears. It may take several hours to a few days for the ears to feel better. If there is sign of ear pain, fever or irritability the child may need to be seen by a doctor. If a child is prone to motion sickness the doctor may also suggest ways to treat this problem.

Packing for the flight

A bag with items a child will need during the trip should be carried onto the plane. For an infant or toddler, this would include nappies, wipes, bottles, formula, dummies, a change of clothes, and spill-proof cups. It is also helpful to pack a "fun bag" containing toys, games and other items to entertain the child during the flight. Appropriate items for plane travel include: travel games, word games, colouring books, crayons, activity books, stickers, markers, and pens.

Boarding the plane

When embarking on a plane trip, it is a good idea to arrive at the airport with enough time for the child to walk around or play before boarding. This can help the child burn off extra energy before being confined in an airline seat. Extra time will also permit a bathroom visit or nappy change, which may be easier to accomplish before getting on the plane. Often, people with small children are allowed to board ahead of other passengers.

Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 14/1/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

Back Email a Friend View Printable Version Bookmark This Page


eknowhow | The World's Best Websites
    Privacy Policy and Disclaimer